THE headline: ‘40,000 Children do not own a single book’.
The figure relates to children aged eight to 18 in Greater Manchester. They were obtained from the National Literacy Trust (NLT). The article didn’t go into much detail as to why 40,000 children didn’t own a book.
Even though I don’t know the reasoning for this, (the article mentioned disadvantaged children but we have no idea how the NLT’s classifies ‘disadvantaged children’), I was totally dumbfounded by the figure mentioned.
I was dumbfounded because I grew up at a time where books were part of my life. I didn’t have tons of books but always had a few that were mine. I grew up reading Ladybird books – my favourite was Rumpelstiltskin. I progressed onto Old Mrs Pepperpot. I managed to stagger through Shakespear’s Macbeth (aged 14) and ended up moving onto Steven King in my late teenage years.
Books have power. They improve literacy and drive imagination.
I had the pleasure of visiting two bookshops on Merseyside recently. The first, News from No Where on Bold Street (Liverpool) was packed with different genres and had books with challenging titles such as Abortion Wars and Great War to Race riots.
The other bookshop, Broadhurst, based in Southport, blew me away. This is an amazing bookshop that has everything! It was established in 1920. Books spread across four floors! After browsing the four floors, I left the shop thinking ‘Wow’!
Visiting both News from No Where and Broadhursts got me thinking. I love when I’m physically holding a book. There’s something nice and relaxed about browsing through books inside a bookshop. I’d love to see the same level of traffic in independent bookshops as seen in an Apple store!
Whist I do find the 40,000 headline astonishing, there needs to be some scratching beneath the surface. Are children using alternative reading platforms (i.e. tablets, the internet or visiting libraries)?
If it’s a case of children not reading because of not having books, then how do we get books to them and get them reading? There are certainly no lack of books or authors!